Speaking to a Commons select committee, the head of the civil service says investigations into the prime minister should be avoided "wherever possible" as they were difficult for staff.
Image: Simon Case sits beside Boris Johnson in cabinet meetings
Appointing civil servants to investigate the prime minister’s conduct puts them “in a genuinely difficult position”, says the Cabinet Secretary.
Speaking to a Commons select committee, Simon Case – who leads the civil service – said such inquiries were “very difficult” for staff and should “be avoided wherever possible”.
His comments follow senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report into allegations of lockdown parties in Downing Street during the pandemic.
A police investigation into 12 of the so-called “partygate” events led to 126 fixed penalty notices being issued, including individual fines to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
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Asked by the chair of Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, William Wragg, whether asking civil servants to carry out such probes was appropriate, Mr Case said it should be avoided.
“The role of the civil service is there to support the government of the day whilst upholding the values,” he said.
“Its function is not to provide some sort of judicial function over ministers.”
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The cabinet secretary also said some people “used the language” of calling civil servants “independent”, but he said that was “not correct”.
Mr Case added: “The civil service is not independent. It is there to act impartially, it’s one of our values, but the civil service is there to support the government of the day.
“And, as you say, asking civil servants to do these investigations put these civil servants in a genuinely difficult position.”
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